Political News

One pension scheme shelved -- New ballot measure planned

Posted 8 years 281 days ago ago by   


By The Association of Deputy District Attorneys Board of Directors

Chuck Reed and Carl DeMaio announced they will not be circulating for signatures the pension initiative they previously announced earlier this year while promising to announce two more pension initiatives. The decision reflects, again, that Reed and company can't "handle the truth" about their pension schemes.

The recently aborted initiative was a full-fledged assault on the pensions of current employees, and an attempt to eviscerate collective bargaining. As mandated by law, the California Attorney General accurately and truthfully created a ballot initiative title and summary, exposing as a lie Reed and DeMaio's characterization of the initiative. No doubt mindful of a 2014 court ruling that upheld the Attorney General's title and summary of Reed's previous pension initiative; the duo chose not the challenge the interpretation in court.

This of course, did not stop Reed and DeMaio from attacking the summary-but that backfired. Even allies called them out for their duplicity. For example, newspaper columnist Daniel Borenstein wrote that the Attorney General's summary was accurate, and bluntly stated Reed and DeMaio "shouldn't continue to falsely pitch the measure."

However, Chuck Reed and Carl DeMaio are clearly desperate to try to avoid accurate descriptions of their initiatives because there is no public support for what they wish to do. A recent public opinion poll revealed that less than 1/3 of voters believe public employee pensions are a big problem, the lowest number in a decade.

Chuck Reed has had a rough summer, with the San Jose City Council voting to ask a judge to invalidate Reed's 2012 Measure B pension initiative, a pension initiative that led to the devastation of public safety in San Jose. Carl DeMaio has fared no better-his new occupation of radio talk show host, following failed Mayoral and Congressional campaigns, saw his co-host quit after several months rather than continue to work with DeMaio.

Carl DeMaio has recently promised not one, but two, new pension initiatives which he boasts will get around the "political obstacles" of the Attorney General Title and Summaries of Initiatives. However, both the courts and even his close political allies agree that the Title and Summaries of pension initiatives which Reed and DeMaio consider obstacles are simply accurate statements of what the dangerous duo have proposed. What Reed and DeMaio can't get around, and what they can't handle, is the truth.

The following summarizes what the new pension measures would do, according to Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of retiree and public employee organizations:

Voter Empowerment Act of 2016

Eliminates defined benefit (DB) pensions for new employees hired after January 1, 2019.  Employers could provide risky defined contribution plans, would not be required to contribute any amount towards employee retirement and could provide nothing at all.
Limits employer contributions to one-half the cost of retirement benefits.  Employers would not have to pay anything, but can’t pay more than half.
Prohibits benefit enhancements for employees or retirees in existing defined benefit retirement plans.
Prohibits employers from paying the increased costs related to closing existing retirement plans.  This means either the state would have to pick up the costs, or if funds go broke employees and retirees would have to sue to get their benefits paid.
Death and disability benefits would be impaired, because they are currently based on a DB plan.  If DB plans are eliminated, there is no way to provide existing death and disability plans.
Reciprocity is eliminated.  If a government employee changes employers they are treated as “new employees”.  A teacher changing school districts would lose their pension.  Same with all other employees.
Allows voters to approve defined benefit plans or increased employer contributions above one-half the cost of retirement benefits for new employees, or benefit enhancements for existing employees or retirees.

Government Pension Cap Act of 2016

Prohibits government employers from contributing more than 11 percent of base compensation for a new employee’s retirement benefits, or 13 percent for safety employees.
Includes Social Security, Medicare, retiree health care (including prefunding), defined contribution plans and other deferred compensation towards the 11 or 13%.
Will result in huge pay cuts for all new employees.
Reciprocity is eliminated.  If a government employee changes employers they are treated as “new employees”.  A teacher changing school districts would lose their pension.  Same with all other employees.

CalPERS Pension Buck